Category Archives: Minnesota Center for Reading Research

Minnesota’s emphasis on early literacy supported by CEHD researchers

Target-PRESS-logo-4CEarly literacy education is receiving the highest priority in Minnesota in an effort to narrow the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students, according to a recent Star Tribune story, “Early literacy gets new focus, funds.” Broad support for this initiative, including a $45 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is based on significant research and service contributions by CEHD researchers and students, including many associated with the Minnesota Center for Reading Research (MCRR). The MCRR’s PRESS partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minnesota Reading Corps, and Target Corporation is one example featured in the article.
Across the college a commitment to early learning and early literacy is evident by contributions to now well established research on the importance of early brain development and its connection to the critical pre-third-grade years of reading skill development. From ongoing work in the top-rated Institute of Child Development and Center for Early Education and Development to curriculum development and school partnerships created by faculty and staff in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction, CEHD is at the forefront of statewide efforts to improve early education.
Deborah Dillon
One contributor, literacy education professor Deborah Dillon, was recently honored with the 2012 Minnesota Academy of Reading Award for leadership. Dillon notes in the article that literacy education “must go beyond words and definitions to teach students complex ideas” and that it is “absolutely critical we don’t let up after third grade.”
See more on CEHD contributions to early learning and early literacy.

Using e-books effectively with kids

Lori HelmanE-books can be a great resource for improving literacy and engaging children in the reading experience, according to a recent article in the Star Tribune, but adult interaction and guidance needs to be a part of that experience, says Lori Helman, associate professor of literacy education and co-director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research. She says human relations are crucial to child development.
“We need a lot of opportunities for face-to-face interaction so children can learn what it means to be human,” she says in the article. “A developing person, whether they’re 2 or 7, needs to be able to ask questions and check out their understanding. And no app can be responsive to all the questions and thoughts and wonderings that a young person needs. You need people.”
Helman believes, however, that apps and e-books can improve access to books and put more resources at their fingertips.
“If we’re using these things as little babysitters, I think kids will get tired of them,” she says. “But if we use them to enhance our interaction, imagine the great conversation that could spark.”
See the full story here.

MCRR presents Brown Bag Discussion with Dr. Yolanda Majors

YolandaMajorsCultural Community Processes: Resources for Reasoning through Texts
Thursday, November 17, 2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences, St. Paul Campus
Join us for an afternoon session of the MCRR Brown Bag Discussion series.
Dr. Yolanda Majors, visiting Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction, will present and answer questions.
Majors says, “In this presentation, I present a cultural context view of literacy. I argue that, when leveraged within a classroom, literacy from this perspective can provide an alternative space that structures opportunities for all students to sort through their real life dilemmas as well as work through the academic tasks they are expected to take up. Research that acknowledges students’ literate problem-solving and problem posing processes as culturally situated under-scores and challenges the dominant theme in education that either (1) views students’ cultural practices (e.g., ways of speaking, communicating, listening, responding) as deficits rather than as resources, and (2) tends to link popular culture practices, such as rap and hip-hop music, to classroom practices without making explicit how and where such links occur.”
Please visit the MCRR Events page for more information about upcoming events.

Literacy researchers create innovative program for Mpls. Public Schools

Jennifer McComasSix Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) have been selected as locations for Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS), a comprehensive approach to early literacy developed by Minnesota Center for Reading Research co-directors Lori Helman and Matthew Burns and educational psychology professor Jennifer McComas. The Target Foundation is donating $6 million to fund PRESS and other district literacy programs over the next three years. The selected schools are Marcy Open School, Anishinabe Academy, Anne Sullivan Communication Center, Pillsbury Elementary, Harvest Preparatory School and Best Academy.
Aimed at preparing all Minneapolis students to read by the third grade, PRESS expands upon research-based strategies developed via the Minnesota Reading First model, which improved student vocabulary, comprehension, word recognition, and fluency. Helman, Burns, and McComas, in partnership with The Minnesota Reading Corps, helped develop instructional strategies for students of all skill levels in kindergarten through third grade, including expanded support for English Language Learners.
Lori Helman“PRESS integrates the research on what is essential for student success in reading, the instructional practices that help learners advance, and the school-wide structures that ensure a continuous focus on data,” said Helman, associate professor in curriculum and instruction. “There is evidence that each of these areas is critical to improved outcomes in student performance.”

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McKnight Foundation funds literacy plan for CEHD partner school district

The McKnight Foundation has announced funding for a preK-3 reading initiative in collaboration with CEHD and the Brooklyn Center Independent School District #286. Part of a larger effort to improve early literacy, the McKnight funding will include an initial $150,000 grant to develop comprehensive strategies, with additional funding possible after the first year for implementation.
Earle Brown.jpg
The college’s strong relationship with the district’s Earle Brown Elementary School has become a model for success and shows the positive effects of support from literacy faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s elementary education program. “For six years, the district has partnered with the University of Minnesota to introduce the concept of a continuum that includes reading strategies, skills, and assessment tools within an elementary literacy framework,” according to the McKnight announcement. Initial licensure candidates from the college have taken literacy education courses at Earle Brown.
More recently, CEHD’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) has strengthened the bond with Earle Brown even more, said partnership coordinator Stacy Ernst. “The deepening relationship is an example of how the redesign of the way we ‘do’ partnerships helps all involved–districts, centers, programs–deepen, focus, and fund the work,” she said. “The college’s Educator Development and Research Center (EDRC) is working across college departments and centers to advocate for our school partners and university faculty, match interests/research needs, and coordinate new connections within the TERI Partner Network.”

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Faculty research undergirds new Minneapolis/Target literacy program

Matthew BurnsUniversity of Minnesota Center for Reading Research (MCRR) Co-Directors Lori Helman and Matthew Burns and Educational Psychology Professor Jennifer McComas have developed the comprehensive Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS) that will be implemented in Minneapolis Public Schools. Aimed at preparing all Minneapolis students to read by the third grade, PRESS is based on a research-based approach to literacy. The district announced its partnership with Target Foundation, which is donating $6 million to district literacy programs over the next three years, in a press conference May 2.

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Schools honored for reading achievements by Minnesota Center for Reading Research

Sixty-two Minnesota elementary schools were honored recently for their achievement in reading by the Minnesota Center for Reading Research with a presentation and ceremony at the University of Minnesota. Schools chosen for the honor are those elementary schools that made adequate yearly progress in reading during school years 2008-09 and 2009-10 after failing to make adequate yearly progress in the previous year. See the list of schools honored.